If you’ve spent more than a few brief minutes looking around in this market, you’ve more than likely encountered the Rinnai propane tankless water heater at one point or another.
And while this brand has been around for a long time and built a loyal following of customers, the key questions you want answered is – will this brand of tankless water heater meet your needs and is it worthy of your consideration?
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In this brief review, we’ll take a look at the most important elements and details. We’ll tell it to you straight – so you can decide for yourself. This means looking at it from all sides, so you’ll get to see what customers like most about the Rinnai propane tankless water – and what they don’t really care for.
A Rinnai Propane Tankless Water Heater Saves Space
As is the case of any tankless water heater, this Rinnai unit is much smaller than a traditional hot water tank that most of us have – or have had – in our homes. That’s changing in a big way. Today, tankless is the way to go, thanks to the space it frees-up by not having a 50-gallon water tank as a permanent fixture.
In the case of the Rinnai wall mounted water heater, it measures 9.27 inches deep by 26.9 inches high by 14.04 inches wide. It weighs in at about 45.6 pounds. It takes a little wall space rather than several square feet of floor space.
And this particular product – one of Rinnai’s more popular water heaters is propane powered. It also comes in two different versions – one that gets mounted inside the home and the other outside. Which of these two versions is best for you largely depends on your current setup and your need for space inside.
For example, a medium-sized home would typically have an indoor mount. Whereas, with a tiny house would benefit from an outdoor installation.
But if you prefer, there’s also the Rinnai natural gas tankless water heater. However, for the purposes of this article, we’ll discuss only the propane version – since it seems to be popular among quality-conscious buyers.
Small in Size – Mighty In Capability
As a space-saving solution, you just can’t beat a tankless water heater in general. And after checking out numerous brands, we can confidently say that the Rinnai is one of the best water heaters on the market today.
Flow rates on the Rinnai propane tankless water heater run up to about 7.5 gallons per minute. That’s enough water to comfortably service a whole house in the mid-size range. BTUs range from a low of 10,300 up to a maximum of 180,000 – so it’s fully capable of heating the water at various points throughout the average size home simultaneously.
Easy on Fuel With Consistent Performance
Overall, Rinnai portable water heaters are both economical on fuel and reliable in terms of performance. Although more expensive than your average tankless water heater, the Rinnai brand is known for its quality and durability.
You should be able to get multiple years of service out of a single unit. Several past buyers have reported having to replace their Rinnai portable water heaters only after 10 to 20 years of reliable service. So yes, they are more expensive. But over the long haul, they represent solid value to the homeowner and that’s what’s most important.
One of the big advantages these Rinnai tankless water heaters offer with both models is that they are fully capable of heating water to a comfortable level and having it flow through multiple taps at the same time. Two showers plus a dishwasher can be used at once, without any loss of water pressure or volume.
Endless Hot Water At The Ready
The volume of hot water Rinnai is capable of delivering is considerable. With multiple bathrooms, you shouldn’t have to wait around for one shower at a time. And that’s where Rinnai shines. As long as you have propane in the tank, you’ll have fast access to steaming-hot water.
Previous buyers report being delighted with their never-ending hot water on tap. Some mentioned the fact that they can fill their large – even oversized – tubs with water as hot as they like it. Others claim they can do the dishes, toss in a load of laundry and take a shower at the same time – and never run out of water at just the right temperature.
Outdoor Mounted Rinnai Propane Tankless Water Heater
Overall size is measured at a depth of 9.6 inches, height of 24.3 inches, and a width of 14 inches. And the product weighs exactly 43.6 pounds.
It’s important to note that the outdoor mount model is designed to be used outdoors only and is not interchangeable with the indoor model.
The space-saving design is particularly helpful in smaller homes with those with lots of people living under one roof. But with the outdoor mount, you save even more space by locating your water heater outside, since you don’t need a utility room or closet to house the system.
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With this outdoor installation, you never have to worry about it freezing, like you do with a lot of water heaters. Just leave it plugged in and its built-in protection helps to avoid freezing and damaging the unit.
And rest assured, the Rinnai tankless propane water heater system looks good outdoors or indoors. It features a stylish, modern design that looks clean – and it saves plenty of space too.
Continuous Flow of Water
You’ll delight in the fact that you’ll never run out of hot water. Even in a larger home you may have limited room around the crawlspace or basement. With any propane (or natural gas) water heater it’s vital that you have proper venting and allow the required height for installation. This is what makes an outside unit so desirable. In most cases, you’ll have plenty of space to install a tankless water heater.
For larger homes (and family requirements), you may consider installing two units on opposite sides of the house. You can then feed multiple bathrooms, as well as your kitchen and laundry room. Everybody can have access to the showers, sinks and appliances comfortably, without interruption or waiting around for the outdated water tank to heat another load of water.
But one Rinnai propane tankless water heater may be more than enough. At least one reviewer reported that with a large family where hot-water is at a premium, owning a Rinnai means that they never run out of hot water – despite the numerous demands at any given time.
Chances are quite good that with this system, your hot water demands with be quickly met too. As long as you have propane in the tank and the unit is running – you should have access to plenty of hot water.
Stop Wasting Money – Save On Energy
You’ll achieve energy savings and have a ready and seemingly endless supply of hot water whenever you need it. One thing that sets Rinnai apart from other manufacturers of tankless water heaters is their use of “recirculation technology”. It is said to supply hot water faster – though it’s not typically instant.
Rinnai’s built-in technology “re-circulates” hot water in the pipes to send hot water out of your faucet in less time than it would otherwise take. There’s still a slight delay, as there is with any tankless system. So this is something you’ll have to get used to. But on the plus side, you’re not constantly heating a large tank full of hot water (and burning energy needlessly) just to have hot water come out of the tap the second you turn it on.
If you’re concerned about the environment, this is a better option for you simply because it requires less energy to produce abundant hot water.
Installation Of The Indoor Propane Heater RL75iP
If you’re replacing the old style hot water tank, it usually makes sense to set up your tankless model in the same general location.
But the indoor version of the Rinnai tankless can also be installed in nontraditional places like closets and crawlspaces – even attics – as long as it’s installed properly. Always follow directions – or hire a certified professional to do it for you.
Compared to hot water tanks, this tankless, propane powered water heater uses much less energy and conserves water too. So it’s easy to see why this one is so popular. Rinnai is the number one selling tankless water heater brand throughout North America.
According to the manufacturer, the average life expectancy of a standard (tank type) water heater is 8 to 10 years. But with their tankless system, they claim the average life expectancy is 20 years – more than double the average of a tank type heater.
Will This Tankless System Meet My Family’s Needs?
What concerns a lot of prospective buyers of any tankless water heater is user capacity. In other words, will there be enough water for two or more people to shower at once? The simple answer is, this; it depends on the water flow rate.
With the Rinnai propane tankless water heater, minimum flow is 0.4 gallons per minute, while the maximum water flow is a whopping 7.5 gallons – at 120° F. So in most cases, the answer is yes – this model will meet your needs.
It’s fair to say that a tankless water heater is a better option from a pure comfort level. In the case of Rinnai’s tankless heater, it does an excellent job of maintaining the water temperature with multiple users at the same time.
It comes with an electronic ignition so there’s no pilot light you have to worry about igniting and maintaining. As long as you’ve got propane in the tank, you’ll have hot water at your faucets.
But as with any water heater, you’ll need to maintain this by cleaning out the system once per year. Scale tends to build up and slows the flow, lowering efficiency. But a simple flush of the system can make a big difference in performance.
Slightly Delayed Reaction
With this whole home system, having hot water at the tap, means you need to allow 30 to 40 seconds to send the heated water through pipes that have cooled down considerably when not being used. Once you get used to it you’re going to love it. But it does take some getting used to if you only had instant hot water before.
Any faucet located close to the water heater will receive hot water quickest. Similarly, anything further away will take progressively longer. But it’s not an unreasonable waiting period. You simply have to allow the water to travel through the pipes knowing that those pipes have in some cases turned icy cold.
Getting The Flow Right
One possible solution for cold water flow is to increase the flow first. If the water flow is too low, the system is going to turn on and off, sensing a low demand for hot water. Every time that happens, the water is going to cool. There’s always a lag time after it shuts off and that’s why cold water comes out of the tap when you turn it on.
Get used to how it works. An easy fix is to turn on the hot water full, before getting into the shower. Then adjust that temperature down once the hot water is flowing until you get it to a comfortable level. Then you’re ready to jump in.
When the water is constantly flowing at a robust rate, you can count on a consistent temperature. When the system shuts down and then turns on again later, you can expect there to be cold water in between because that’s what is in the pipes. This is only natural.
Water Temperature Control At Your Fingertips
With this tankless water heater, you have total control, thanks to the digital control panel. Up-and-down buttons allow you to set the temperature to your preference from 98 to 110° F. Maximum default temperature is set at 120°F – although that too can be modified.
The control panel also is where you’ll find the on/off button, and use indicator, temperature display, priority button, and priority indicator. Should something go wrong in the system, an error will show on the digital screen.
This LCD display also shows you the out-flowing water temperature as well as the flow rate. Once you’re getting the results (temperature and water flow) you want, you can lock the controller to prevent accidental adjustments from being made.
Pros & Cons Of The Rinnai Propane Tankless Water Heater
- Delivers constant hot water consistently
- Provides an immediate and regular savings in electricity – typically $50 – $80 monthly – on average
- Performs as expected, day after day
- Closed system prevents cold air from getting in when the tankless water heater is not running
- Relatively quiet operations compared to other water heaters
- Small footprint – Frees up floor space and doesn’t take much room on the wall (It’s about the size of small suitcase)
- Can have at least 2 showers running at the same time with full water flow at a comfortably hot temperature continuously
- Whole house water heating system – can do laundry, dishes and have shower running simultaneously
- Endless supply of hot water means you can easily fill an over-sized Jacuzzi or deep tub
- Control panel displays temperature and water flow and is easily adjustable
- Once temperature has been set, the Rinnai system maintains the water at that precise setting (it’s a degree of precision you just can’t get with a tank style water heater)
- Product seems to last a long time (much longer than some) with multiple buyers reporting 10, 15, even 20 years of service from their Rinnai tankless water heater (propane) *Editor’s note: This review does not pertain to the Rinnai Natural Gas Tankless Water Heater
- Space saver design is particularly helpful in smaller homes and those with several people living under one roof
- It’s easy on fuel – this one only sips propane rather than guzzling it – resulting in lower overall consumption
- Less waste since you’re not heating water that you’re not ready to use
- Can experience a surge of cold water as water gets trapped inside the pipes in between usage
- Needs to run a bit (30 – 45 seconds) before hot water flows out of the faucet or showerhead (it’s a minor inconvenience until one grows accustomed to how it works)
- A bit on the noisy side when it fires up
- Pricy – one of the more expensive tankless water heaters
- When turning the tap low, the system senses that hot water demand has diminished and shuts down
- Seems a little wasteful to lose the cold water that flows out in advance of the hot water
- If you have a blackout and lose your electrical service, it shuts down the igniter too
Our Verdict On The Rinnai Propane Tankless Water Heater
Overwhelmingly, the majority of buyers are thrilled with the performance of Rinnai propane tankless water heater.
It’s a clean and efficient water heating system that gets the job done comfortably and abundantly. And you’ll save valuable space typically occupied by a 40 to 50 gallon electric tank water heater.
This is a sustainable and reliable water heater and therefore, an intelligent investment. Not only will it serve you now, but it should serve you well for years into the future.
While it’s expensive compared to some models, the efficiency, satisfaction of use, and longevity of the system make it a worthwhile purchase.